Jim Bolger is not fretting about the opposition, the ground, or the 43 days in which Poetic Flare has been absent from racecourse action as he looks forward to unleashing his outstanding miler in the Qatar Sussex Stakes (G1) July 28.
Victory for Poetic Flare would give Bolger a first success in Glorious Goodwood’s signature prize and also complete a huge treble that narrowly eluded the brilliant 3-year-old’s famous father.
Like his son, Dawn Approach was trained by Bolger to land the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (G1) and St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1), but on rain-softened ground he succumbed to Toronado when set the Sussex test.
The conditions are expected to be even softer on this occasion and, although Poetic Flare came within a short-head of beating stablemate Mac Swiney in a muddy Tattersalls Irish Two Thousand Guineas (G1), he produced much his most thrilling display when romping to a wide-margin triumph on a fast surface at Royal Ascot.
That was his fifth outing in just over two months, yet Bolger is adamant his homebred marvel will not have forgotten how to race in the interim.
He told British Champions Series: “He’s only had a break in as much as he hasn’t been racing, but he’s a horse who I have to keep moving, so it hasn’t exactly been a holiday. He’s very well and I couldn’t be happier with him.
“It was fast ground when Poetic Flare won at Ascot, and it might well be that he’s better on that better ground, but he seems to handle all going and he’s pretty good on soft, too.
“My preference would be for good ground, but whatever it is, I’ll take it. I’m very happy with my horse and I don’t worry too much about anybody else’s.”
The Sussex is part of the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series and will award the winner a berth in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF (G1T) Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order of Australia , off a win in the Romanised Minstrel Stakes (G2) at the Curragh, is also among the Sussex entries.
“Order of Australia has come out of last weekend’s win at the Curragh very well and the Sussex Stakes is a race that could suit him,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said. “He can be ridden very forward and is happy making the running, although we would be delighted to get a lead.”
Hannon Hopes ‘Snow’ Can Strike
Snow Lantern (gray) gets up to win the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse
The Hannons were responsible for denying Dawn Approach in the 2013 Sussex Stakes and could now take down Poetic Flare with Snow Lantern , a group 1-winning filly whose parents had very different experiences of Goodwood in high summer.
For although Frankel —also responsible for Saturday’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1) hero Adayar —claimed consecutive wins in the now £1 million showpiece, Sky Lantern met all sorts of trouble in running when fifth in the 2013 Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes (G1).
The Nassau was also an option for Snow Lantern, but having chased home Alcohol Free in the Coronation Stakes (G1) and then avenged that eclipse in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes (G1), she sticks to a mile, although this time under Jamie Spencer due to regular partner Sean Levey being suspended.
Richard Hannon, whose father Richard Sr. held the licence when Toronado and Sky Lantern were competing, said: “We could have gone for the Nassau but I was keen to stick to a mile for now. She stays in training next year and can go up to a mile and a quarter then.
“This is one of the biggest mile races in the calendar, and it’d be great to win it, but if she gets beaten it won’t be a disaster and we’ll just regroup. I think Poetic Flare is the most impressive 3-year-old we’ve seen all season but our filly is the most lightly raced horse in the field and I hope there’s still more to come from her.
“She’s now relaxing so much better than was once the case, which is a big thing, and we know she’s going to be fine on the ground. She worked as she always does on Sunday, namely very economically, but she was great in her body and mind, so we’re looking forward to another big run.”